Distance is conquered in a long journey mile by mile, turn by turn…but not just by dreaming of the destination. Keeping the destination in view of course could act as the impetus to take the next mile. But…what if the following were to happen:
1. Roundabouts are encountered and instead of taking the first opportunity to exit, the traveler gets stuck in a pattern of going around the roundabout
2. Focusing too much on the the complexities of the travel, the destination is forgotten
3. Getting bogged down by the (long) distance, the journey to the next mile is given up
4. Not planning enough just to make it to the next fueling station
With that analogy out of the way, these behaviors are exhibited at every decision point – either at an individual level or at a team level, where an act(ion)/practice that would improve the status quo by a tiny quantum is sacrificed keeping in view the ideal state or the effort that it takes to reach there. To give a simplistic example., organizations waiting for the absolute change in behaviors top down before embarking on an agile journey at a root level. Or, not entrusting responsibility/an activity to someone who is “good enough”, in the hope of an ideal person turning up to take on the work. This act of waiting or postponing the decision to act would maintain the high entry barrier, or the ideal-state-slack as depicted in the picture).
The other downside – there is a good chance that with no external interrupt/influence, the current state might as well slip into the next degenerate state making it even more difficult to make improvements. Again taking the analogy of travel, as they say, if you don’t accelerate/apply enough throttle to keep up the current pace or improve it, deceleration ensues(due to the ever existing friction).
So what can be done. The trick is to have at least enough clarity to take the next turn and understand what could be the next immediate milestone to reach to, and the set of simple practices that can be implemented to get there. For e.g., if in an ideal state one would like to reach a great degree of comfort in public speaking, finding smaller opportunities(in smaller forums/coffee time discussions) to make ones voice heard could be a simple practice. The onus is more on doing something consistently rather than on the specific practice itself. And what could be more helpful than having a friend join you along the way to speed things up.